Thursday, November 09, 2006
Getting ready to go!
Here is a photograph taken yesterday of runway snowblowing operations at Patriot Hills.
An advance party flew into Patriot Hills a few days ago on a pair of Dehavilland Twin Otters and found a great deal of snow on the ice runway. So they are spending this week blowing snow and otherwise grooming the 7500 foot ice runway for our arrival, which may be as soon as tomorrow. It is a monumental task for a small number of people.
We have spent the past week oranizing radio and other logistical gear and meeting with expeditions here in Punta Arenas. Now our bags and the equipment are stowed on the Ilyushin 76 jet waiting at Punta Arenas airport. The pilots - all Ukrainians - are former officers in the Soviet air force - Zdrastbyi! Kak ti pozhivayesh!
When we arrive at the base we will set the camp up from scratch. All gear is either is stowed in an under-ice cave last season or that which we bring with us. I imagine that it will be gorgeous but cold - yesterday the temperature at the base was minus 4 Fahrenheit.
First thing we will do is set up our mountaineering tents - one per person. I will additionally be working with the others to get the communications tent set up as I will need to go to work immediately - four expeditions set out the moment we arrive and the Ilyushin needs to be followed on the way home less than two hours after it arrives.
That all for now from picturesque Punta Arenas. Going down to the pier to say hello to the Americans aboard the MV Gould, an icebreaker heading to the US base at Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula